Modifying Child Support in New Jersey

As defined by New Jersey law, modifying child support in New Jersey must be a substantial and permanent change. This means that the parent that is requesting the modification has the burden of showing that there is a material change in circumstances. An example of this would be if a parent says that they are no long employed and that they have not been employed for a month and they cannot find a job.

The judge requires that the parents of child support cases to show their educational history, their employment and overall background, and to what extent they are actually looking for a job. 

A parent that does not have a job must prove that not only is this a substantial and permanent change, but the person has made the effort to try to find employment that is not just a temporary issue. For more information on changing your support plan, contact a skilled family attorney.

Situations that Warrant a Change in Child Support?

Changed circumstances are defined as situations that are permanent, substantial, and unanticipated. These can be in the increase in the need of the child, an increase or decrease in the parent's income, the custodial parent or the noncustodial parent, or a change in the status of the child, such as an ailment or disability. It could be if there is an illness or disability with the parent or if there is a substantial increase in the cost of living.

What Situations Do Not Warrant a Change in Child Support?

The courts have consistently redirected modifications for child support if the changed circumstances are only temporary or they are expected. They also will not modify child support if somebody is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.

Ability to Terminate Child Support Payments

A paying parent is only going to be able to terminate child support payments if the child is emancipated. If the child is under the age of 19, the obligation to pay child support is only going to terminate if the child marries, dies, or enters the military.

Once the child reaches the age of 19, they are considered automatically emancipated and the child support obligation is going to end. If the child is older than 19, the custodial parent or child can seek a continuation of the child support if the child is still enrolled in high school or secondary program. 

If the child is participating full time in a post-secondary education program, and also if the child has a physical or mental disability that existed prior to the child reaching the age of 19 and requires continued child support or other exceptional circumstances as may be approved by the court.

It can range outside of those listed factors, but the court needs to determine that continued support is necessary for the child who is now older than 19 and one of the things that the court looks at is whether or not the child is outside the sphere of parental influence. That is the standard that the court uses. 

Determining Alimony Payments

The child support amount is calculated based on the Guidelines. The court considers the expenses for the children and who incurs those expenses for the children. In terms of a child support award, the Court does not consider alimony. A Child Support Award does not affect any alimony obligation; it is an additional expense for the payor spouse to consider.

Just because an individual has a child support obligation does not mean that their alimony obligation is going to be decreased. However, if they have an alimony obligation, they get credit for that in their child support calculation. One of the things that the child Support Guidelines do allow for is an individual to input the amount that a paying spouse is paying for alimony and the payor spouse is receiving for alimony.

Benefits of Retaining an Attorney

Retaining a family law attorney will allow you not only to have the attorney calculate the child support guidelines ahead of time, so you are prepared for what is going on when you go into court. If you are the paying parent and you have actually been trying to find employment and you have continued to be unemployed, and attorney may be able to temporarily suspend child support.